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SBG 1913 on Foul Language

I am always combing the internet for free stuff. Most of it is trash, but every now and then a gem can be found - particularly when looking for content where copyright rights have expired. This is the perfect batch for hidden gems; things are free and readily available simply because they are so old!

Such is the case with the 1913 edition of Spalding's baseball guide. It can be found for free on the internet in all sorts of formats. This is part one of an ongoing series in which I will investigate excerpts of a hidden treasure.

Spalding's Baseball Guide - 1913: on foul language
It has ever been the policy of the GUIDE to stand for clean and high class Base Ball. Twenty per cent. more women attend ballgames than ten years ago. Eighty per cent. more women spectators are likely to attend games five years from now. To encourage their attendance every effort should be made to eliminate all disgraceful conversation on the field. 
As a general rule two good reasons may be advanced for disputes on the part of players. 
First: Desire to "cover up" the player's own blunder. 
Second: General "cussedness."

MLB, MLK, and the XX Chromosome

Martin Luther King Jr., if he were still alive today, would have some things to say about baseball. I don't know exactly what he would have to say, but he'd have something to say. His birthday is an ideal day to pause and take a look at Major League Baseball from more of a social justice perspective. Steroids are a hot topic again in the wake of the great Hall of Fame non-vote, but there are other uncomfortable truths in the game today.

One thing King would certainly have something to say about is the shrinking black population in the majors. Only 8.5% of MLB players on opening day rosters in 2012 were black, which is half the rate that were black in 1959 when the Red Sox became the last team to integrate after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier (source of that fact is in the hyperlinked USA Today story).

I have it in my mind to investigate the shrinking black population in some depth one of these days, but for now I will just say it is an interesting, and I believe complex, trend. My hunch is that whatever is contributing to the modern disappearance of black baseball players happens before MLB scouts ever get eyes on players*. This doesn't diminish or dismiss the problem, but it changes the nature of the discussion. I have no idea if MLK would agree with my line of thinking, and it is too bad that he isn't around to weigh in.

*I know this is cryptic, but unpacking this idea really is a post of its own.

I will link to a good MLK post about black ballplayers if I find one. I am actually more interested in talking about women with this post. There is a gender barrier in baseball that simply should not exist at this point.

A Visualization of Team Italy

The Mariners have nine players on various World Baseball Classic rosters. I perused the names and countries without many surprises, until I came to one.

Brian Sweeney is playing for team Italy.

I had never thought of Sweeney's ancestry until this afternoon, but he piqued my interest. I simply did not expect him to be a part of any WBC roster, much less Italy's. The option wasn't within my realm of possibilities.

I wondered who else was on team Italy, and one thing led to another. Below is a map plotting the birth cities of everyone on team Italy:

View Italy WBC in a larger map

I'd think that Italy makes a horse shoe around New York city if I didn't know better. Sweeney was born in Yonkers, NY, so he fits right in.

There are 15 other nations besides Italy in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. I bet a handful of them have player birthplaces that leave similar geographic footprints.

Fun fact: Italy enters the WBC ranked ninth in the world in baseball.

Why, Of All People, I Should Be Pumped for Mike Morse

The Mariners traded for Mike Morse in exchange for John Jaso. Here are full details of the three-way trade, but from the M's end, it was Morse for Jaso.

I really should be excited about this deal. Allow me to explain.

Justin Upton's Rejection a Shame

Justin Upton rejected a trade to the Mariners a couple days ago. This is the biggest news of the whole offseason for the Mariners, which sums up how the offseason has felt. The Mariners seems to have options, but none of them seem to happen.

The rumored package to get Upton was headlined by Taijuan Walker, and filled out with Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor, and Nick Franklin.

Basically, I whole-heartedly agree with Dave Cameron's analysis. This was a fair trade for the Mariners. It would have hurt to see Walker leave, but great to see Upton in the M's lineup. Trades are trades, not free acquisitions of talent. A team loses something to gain something else.

This deal made incredible sense for the Mariners, particularly in light of who is on the roster right now.

Edgar Martinez's Hall of Fame Chances

This is a guest post, courtesy an opportunity through FanDuel, so enjoy a non-Mariners fan's perspective of Edgar's Hall of Fame case.

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It is another MLB offseason, which means for Mariners fans, the Edgar Martinez Hall of Fame debate heats up. While fans in the Pacific Northwest are pretty much unanimous in thinking that Martinez should be enshrined in Cooperstown, voters seem to be pretty mixed.

The biggest issue for Martinez right now has more to do with how the voters look at things than his actual numbers. It is not like he is getting new at-bats in-between each season to increase his odds. The numbers are staying the same, but as of right now, there needs to be a change in the way voters think for him to have a shot.

As has been the case since he first appeared on the ballot in 2010, the people against Martinez love to cite that he only played 592 games in which he needed to bring a glove. Defense has always been a tough thing to judge, but you can’t be judged at all if you are a designated hitter. That hurts him in the voting now just like it hurt him in the MVP voting during his playing days. Having just two top 10 MVP finishes in his career, many also believe he accumulated solid stats instead of ever dominating baseball.

Those voters who rely more on advanced statistics though are right with the Mariner homers who think Martinez should already be in the Hall of Fame. His career on-base percentage, which is a much more well-rounded metric than simply batting average, is .418. Since the 1940s, only Barry Bonds, Mickey Mantle and Frank Robinson have had better careers in that regard.

Winning batting titles while still slugging quite a few home runs is never an easy feat either. He has a pair of batting titles to his name, and with over 300 home runs, he has a rare blend of average and power that puts him in the upper-echelon of best all-around hitters.

Ever since receiving support somewhere in the 30-40% range, things have looked bleak for Martinez to make it into the Hall of Fame. He does have a few things working for him though that should get him in eventually.

For starters, he was well liked by the media, fans and fantasy baseball players. Character counts in the Hall of Fame, especially when it comes to fringe players. His numbers will age well as he is compared to other steroid-era guys and analyzed by a more analytical crowd. The wait your turn deal might seem silly to some (again, nothing changes between now and say 10 years from now regarding his statistics), but judging by the way the Hall of Fame votes, he still has some years to wait before finally being appreciated.

BBA 2013 HOF Inductee

Lots of capital letters flying around the title. I apologize. It beats the long-winded title I would have if I wrote out every word. "Inductee" is not a typo either. Despite a bloated Hall of Fame class, only one player earned 75% of the BBA vote.

Jeff Bagwell is the whole 2013 Hall of Fame class for the BBA - which might be one member larger than the real one the BBWAA releases on Wednesday. Bagwell received over 75% on last year's BBA ballot too (along with Barry Larkin) but obviously did not get the same support from the BBWAA.

The most interesting and telling vote totals are for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens though.

Great Free Agent > Top Draft Pick

Scott Boras produces a range of largely disgruntled and heated reactions within baseball front offices. He is the game's pre-eminent super-agent, and as such knows how to manipulate MLB's system for mountains of cash that would make Scrooge McDuck blush.

Scrooge McDuck. Animated gif posted by user jazzyana at
There are countless examples of Scott Boras's expertise. One of his better jobs in recent memory is Prince Fielder. Boras created a glitzy binder all about Fielder and sent it to all MLB general managers and owners. There appeared to be no market for him until Victor Martinez got injured January. Then, all of a sudden, the Tigers found $214 million they could spare the slugger.

It is easy to see why Boras is often painted as a necessarily evil in baseball. Teams consistently balk at his demands, but at the end of the day he is too good at what he does. He represents premium talent, knows it, and demands astronomical sums. Boras drives hard bargains, but inevitably some team seems willing to pony up.

By the way, the Tigers, after stunning baseball with the $214 million Fielder contract, went to the World Series this past season. It is safe to assume that Scott Boras notices when such things happen.